As a Moor, Othello considers himself an asset rather than a liability. Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Othello, Othello is certainly a conflicted character and it becomes apparent that his standing in Venice is connected to his birth and his forefathers, the Moors. The audience is introduced to Othello's race and the potential for prejudice and discrimination when Iago, in Act I, scene i, lines 89 to 90, relishes telling Brabantio that Othello, "an old black ram is tupping your white ewe," being Desdemona, Brabantio's daughter. He is clearly being derogatory and inciting Brabantio who, ordinarily has great respect for Othello and has welcomed him into his home many times. 

You do not say whether you agree or disagree with the statement that Othello considers himself, being a Moor, as an asset rather than a liability.

If you agree, then you would support your answer with references to Othello's instances of self-praise, whilst trying to be humble and not boast.

1. Othello is proud of his heritage and, even when Iago provokes him (whilst pretending to warn him that Brabantio is looking for him), Othello reminds him that he is above reproach and that "My parts, my title and my perfect soul," (I.ii.31) will prove his virtue.

2. There is no question that Othello is confident of his standing in Venice. When Brabantio approaches him ready to fight, Othello does nothing to protect himself, only suggesting that Brabantio should put away his sword. Furthermore, the Duke has no hesitation designating Othello to protect them and Othello is aware of his prowess in battle.

3. Othello has never questioned Brabantio's interest in his past exploits and, proudly relates his "battles, sieges and fortunes," (I.iii.130), always welcome in Brabantio's home.

4. Othello confidently calls for Desdemona who will confirm that he has not kidnapped her or held her against her will. He speaks of the love Desdemona has for him. He even stakes his life on it and knows that his tales of his conquests, as a Moor, are what first attracted Desdemona, not some "witchcraft," (I.iii.169). His ethnicity has, therefore, made him the man he is and he knows and relishes that in winning Desdemona.

In agreeing that Othello considers being a Moor as advantageous, it is clear that his susceptibility to Iago's manipulating personality rather than his own insecurities, is what causes his tragic downfall. It is Iago who is threatened by Othello's race.

If you disagree with the statement and feel that Othello does not consider it to his advantage to be a Moor, then you could support your answer by referring to the instances where his race or history cause him distress. He will ultimately consider that he has deceived himself.

1. Iago makes disparaging remarks about the potential relationship between Cassio and Desdemona, and Othello reflects on the fact that "I am black," (III.iii.267). He recognizes that he is not well versed in the art of conversation and may fail to recognize subtleties between Venetians. 

2. The more doubt that Iago casts over Desdemona's love for him, the more Othello believes it. Othello finds it necessary to remark that Desdemona, "had eyes and chose me," (III.iii.193), revealing that he is insecure and trying to convince himself, quite different from the confident Othello earlier in the play.

3. By the end, Othello, in his own estimation, is transformed into nothing more than a "malignant and a turban'd Turk," (V.ii.355). To compare himself to a Turk, whom he would have fought and defeated, is confirming that he does not belong.


durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator


Ultimately, Othello's last words can be used to confirm that he is proud of his heritage or that he considers it a curse, depending on your interpretation. He asks them to "speak of me as I am," (345). These are the words of a proud, if confused, man. He becomes the defeated and the victor by stabbing himself proving himself, as a Moor, to be both proud and thwarted.

nethmifernando69 | Student

'Othello' written by William Shakespeare highlights the male protagonist to be a moor in the play. This was mainly an asset rather than a liability in the character portrayal of Othello. An asset is something that is useful and valuable to a person. whereas a liability is a cause or a difficulty. Throughout the play Othello managers to not loose face and his respect. Othello's moor-ship was a huge asset for Shakespeare to make this character as one interesting, and a noble man who ultimately became the tragic hero due to his own follies. Othello appears as a noble man in the beginning who is celebrated, respected as a war hero, a loving husband and as well as an eloquent story teller. But, at the end of the play he is portrayed as an irrational, violent and an insanely jealous man who leads to be the murderer of his wife Desdemona.

Othello is proud about his heritage and even in act 1:2 when Iago provokes him that Brabantio is looking for him he remains calm and he reminds them that 'My parts, my title,and my perfect soul' should be found which will prove his virtue.

Othello is also confident of his standing in Venice. When Brabantio approaches him to fight Othello does not approach to protect himself but he only suggests them to 'keep your bright swords for the dew will rust them' This shows Othello's confidence as well as his peaceful nature.

Othello also appears as an eloquent story teller. He speaks to the gathering about how he won Desdemona's heart through the stories he narrated and not by any means of 'witchcraft' that he has been accused by Brabantio before. Othello's moor-ship become a great asset through his exoticism and this leads Desdemona to fall in love with Othello.

Finally, Othello also confidently calls Desdemona to prove the gathering that he has not used any 'witchcraft' to win her heart but only stories about 'Battle,sieges and fortune' and past experiences on the battle field. these ethnicity therefore, made Desdemona fall in love with him.

Therefore, it is quite obvious that Othello consider being a moor as an advantage, and it is clear that Iago's manipulative personality is rather than his own insecurities is what causes his image to be as a tragic down fall. and it is Iago who is threatened mostly bu Othello's race than Othello him self.

However, i would like to conclude my answer by saying that Othello Being  moor was an Asset to him rather than a Liability.

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